Even though we’re less than 24 hours away from the release of Batman: Arkham Knight, allow me to take a moment to share why I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Rocksteady’s final chapter in their Arkham trilogy. Of course in order to get a full understanding of my point of view, I need to provide you with a little bit of my backstory in order for it all to make sense.
I was fairly young when my Dad brought home our first gaming console, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). In all honesty I can’t even remember when he brought it home, it just feels like it was always there. We may not have had much growing up, but I had my NES and I couldn’t even begin to imagine how many hours of my childhood I dedicated to the original entries in the Super Mario Bros franchise. For most people videogames were/ are a means of entertainment, for me it was a means of escape. No matter how rough things got at home, I always had a means of leaving it all behind and losing myself in another world. If I didn’t have this means of escapism available to me, at such a young age, I’d hate to think how different things would’ve been.
And then in 1989, the unthinkable happened. The NES fell victim to my Dad’s misplaced anger/ frustration, leaving me without the means of escape that I desperately needed. It was through my need for escapism that I discovered comic books, I could easily spend hours pouring over a single issue of Batman. Every time I’d have an opportunity to get my hands on a new issue, I’d go through and read the entire story cover to cover and then I’d go back and read it while taking in all of the artwork. If I didn’t read them in this manner, it could take me hours to finish reading a single issue because I’d lose myself in all of the amazing artwork. Even though I initially turned to comic books as a replacement for my NES, I instantly identified with them and quickly grew to love them. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I didn’t abandon them, when Santa brought me a Sega Genesis in 1993.
It was around this time that I became friends with a pair of brothers in my neighborhood that also shared my love of videogames, this was the first time I’d met anyone else that appreciated them in the way that I did. Even though the Genesis was the last console I’d have an opportunity to own until my twenties, it was through these friends that I was able to experience the latest handhelds and consoles from the; Gameboy, Sega CD, Sega Saturn, SNES, Sega Game Gear, Nintendo 64, PS1, and of course the PS2. We’d spend hours hanging out playing games, it was a safe bet if you were to go looking for me I’d be at their house instead of my own… which was fine by me. This went on for years, they’d become like the family I never had. At least until I turned 16. My dad insisted that I start pulling my weight in the house, so I had to start balancing school and a full-time job to start helping with the bills. The escapism that I once enjoyed had been replaced by distance, I was spending so little time at home that I rarely had to deal with the nonsense I’d been trying to escape. By the time I graduated high school, the only means of gaming I had available to me was the occasional trip to the arcade. But life went on…
Like most of us in our twenties, I was working paycheck to paycheck just trying to make ends meet. It wasn’t until 2007 when the Xbox 360 Elite was released that I was finally able to buy another gaming console, my first since the Sega Genesis. At this time the PS3 still had a very limited title selection, which was why I ultimately opted for the Xbox 360. And right off the bat I was able to pick up used copies of Condemned: Criminal Origins and Dead Rising, which were fun Horror titles to get myself back into gaming.
The only problem was I still hadn’t managed to fully reconnect with videogames, it just wasn’t the same as it once had been.
Newly married, just had our first baby, and I was working well more than 50 hours a week. A part of me feared that the passion for gaming was gone, because I’d “grown up” or no longer needed an escape. As much as I enjoyed both of those games, even with the addition of Halo 3 and countless rentals, I still didn’t have that voice from within screaming at me to play. And then in 2009 Rocksteady released Batman: Arkham Asylum and I found that desire to play once again. This was the first time in a very long time that I’d found myself staying up, excessively, late so I could get a little time to myself to game.
Batman: Arkham Asylum, in my opinion, was one of the best examples of a near perfect game in the last few years. Rocksteady not only managed to create a beautiful vision of Arkham Asylum as they saw it within the Batman Universe, but demonstrated that they had an intimate understanding of the characters within it. And of course the gameplay was perfect, they nailed every detail. This was the first game where I went out of my way to explore every nook & cranny, in search of every trophy and easter egg hidden within. Never once did I feel obligated to do this, I wanted to do it… I needed to do it. And it wasn’t for the bragging rights like some would imagine.
The biggest downside to Arkham Asylum was the lack of enemy respawn, this made for a dull experience while exploring Arkham towards the end of the game. However Rocksteady took everything that worked from Arkham Asylum and improved it 10 times over, when they created Batman: Arkham City. Much like Asylum, I took my time to savor and explore Arkham City so I could find everything they packed within it. Even after the storyline had been beaten, I spent several hours exploring before I decided to up the ante and difficulty with new game plus.
Why have I been eagerly awaiting Batman: Arkham Knight?
Based on everything that Rocksteady delivered with Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, there isn’t any doubt in my mind that Arkham Knight will be the definitive Batman experience. They’ve proven time and again that they’re not not just creating a game set within someone else’s Universe, but they’re a apart of it. They’ve created their own tangent reality within the overall Universe and its truly indistinguishable from anything that DC Comics has done on their own, Rocksteady is that good. Considering that this is going to be their final entry in the franchise, I believe they’re going to lay it all on the line to ensure they close out their trilogy with a memorable bang.
As we’re quickly approaching the release of Arkham Knight, I can say without a doubt that I’ll be heading to GameStop tonight to pick up my pre-ordered copy of the game so I can get, at least, an hour in tonight. I’m dying to experience the story as it unfolds, I’m curious to see how all of the exclusive pre-order DLC & Season Pass DLC unfold and impact the game.
Most importantly I’m looking forward to immersing myself into Gotham and becoming the Batman.